“I ain’t afraid of no ghosts” but vampires terrify me! DON’T LOOK OUT OF THE WINDOW! I told myself I was just being ridiculous. “Yes I am but I ain’t taking no chances. I’m staying right here with the covers pulled over my head.”  It wasn’t Halloween but it might as well have been.
It was a spring evening, a Saturday night in the mid to late Seventies…the year, not the temperature. I don’t know why I remember certain things like it was “a Saturday night in the mid to late Seventies.”  I had just discovered Stephen King and was reading “Salem’s Lot.” For those of you who are unfamiliar with “Salem’s Lot,” it is a vampire yarn featuring bloodsuckers taking over an entire town. Besides being scary as hell, there is an instructional section devoted to…vampire protocols I guess? The section went farther than I must sleep in a casket on a bed of home soil, I risk a really bad sunburn if I appear before dark and in order to maintain my immortality I must feed on virginal blood and stay away from sharp, pointed stakes.
I had just read a vampire couldn’t come into your home unless you invited them in when I heard it. TAP, TAP, TAP. Alone, with no one to run to or call, I’m hearing a TAP, TAP, TAP on the window of my apartment. My second-floor apartment…moments after reading how “little vampire Johnny” had hypnotized his little brother or sister to open a second story window and invite them in. You just can’t trust a vampire. “Whatever you do… DON’T LOOK THEM IN THEIR LITTLE VAMPIRE EYES!” That’s how they hypnotize you…and I heard it again…TAP, TAP, TAP. I could imagine his little vampire fingers…those tiny, gray, blood drained fingers. I imagined his big vampire smile…mouthing…      ”Come on man! Just invite me in, it won’t sting.”  TAP, TAP, TAP.
There was a breeze churned up by a distant thunderstorm…”, it was a dark and stormy night” …and the window was open to take advantage of the spring coolness…the breeze was moving the curtains… ”DON’T LOOK! DON’T LOOK!” Thunder rumbled…” DON’T LOOK! DON’T LOOK!” I didn’t look…I slept with the lights on and the covers over my head. A grown man sleeping with the lights on with covers over his head…actually it was a grown man NOT sleeping with the lights on and the covers over his head.
The next morning, as soon as the sun was FULLY above the horizon, I went out, all bleary-eyed, to see what had caused the TAP, TAP, TAP. I was met by the Doberman Pincher from the apartment below. Placing her paws on my shoulders while looking me in the eyes, she pinned me to the wall assuring me it wasn’t her. Her master explained, “She’s in heat and a bit jumpy.” I would agree. I’m jumpy but not in heat.
It was the tree…a water oak. A little branch just close enough to tap, tap, tap in the wind…or was it? No, I ain’t fallin’ for it. Why take the chance?  Where is my crucifix?  Do I have a clove of garlic?

For more of Don Miller’s whacky rantings, please go to his author’s page at http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501.


Great leaders make everyone around them better

“Great leaders make everyone around them better.” Thank’s to the “Old Fart.”


Thomas Friedman, the award winning author (“The World is Flat” and “That Used to be Us”), made an important observation in an interview with Charlie Rose. A great leader makes everyone around them better – think Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Wayne Gretzky or, if you are older, Bill Russell. Donald Trump makes everyone around him worse.

This is a powerful observation. Defending this immoral man requires his people to go to a bad place in their nature. They must lower themselves and lie like he does. General Kelly harmed his reputation by lying about a Congresswoman. Sarah Huckabee-Sanders is not worth listening to as she defends the indefensible with inconsistent and nonsensical statements.

Trump values loyalty over competence, so the tendency to become a sycophant is rewarded. While he does have some competent people, they are fewer in number and the depth of talent is not as much as needed…

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We camped on a low bluff overlooking the river a mile or two from our homes.  The “three amigos” were eleven or twelve and the outing was our first time camping alone.  The leashes were off.  We had been hard at work.  Our canvas-covered lean-to was in place held steady with freshly cut green saplings. Bedrolls were laid out, rocks placed in a circle for the campfire later and the wood to feed it gathered and stacked.  Our intentions were to catch fish then clean and roast them over our campfire.  Just in case we were well provisioned with Vienna sausages, Deviled Ham, and soda crackers.  Danny had snuck out a pack of his daddy’s Viceroys from its carton and Charlie a deck of his mother’s canasta cards.

We fished with our cane poles until the sun dipped behind the tall water oaks on the western side of the river before giving up our culinary ideas.  Instead, we would dine on cold Vienna’s and warm soft drinks.  As darkness fell we lit off our campfire, lit up our after-dinner Viceroys and toasted our first step toward adulthood with bottles of Orange Crush.  With the dark surrounding our campfire, our talk involved girls and the ones we would most like to sleep with as if we knew what “sleeping with a girl” entailed.  Later we would combine poker with our girl talk.

As late night turned to early morning and the full moon rose above our heads, our conversation turned to ghost stories and tales of particularly graphic murder scenes until one by one we nodded off.

I thought I was awake, opening my eyes to the shadows cast by the bright full moon now chasing the unseen sun to our west.  Swirls of fog rose from the ground and began to take on the shapes of men, clad in animal skins, with spears and warclubs facing off against each other.  Somehow, I knew I was safe, these ghostly forms were not here for me.  I began to hear their yells and the grunts of their effort, some of the yells turning into howls of pain as a spear point or clubhead found it’s mark.  The battle was close in and personal.  Blood stained both the victor and vanquished.

I turned to see if Charlie and Danny were seeing the battle and instead found myself awake and my vision blinded by the rising sun.  As quickly as the warriors had come, they had disappeared.  I never told Charlie and Danny what I had seen.  I feared their ridicule.  I did tell my Native American grandmother, someone who would never ridicule me.

I told Nannie my story and asked, “Nannie, what did it all mean?  It was so real.  I could hear their screams and smell the blood being spilled onto the ground.”

“It means nothing, yet means everything Jethro.  Your forefathers fought for control of the land and the trading routes along the river.  In some cases, they fought each other.  Deaths were violent and released great energy.  Sometimes the spirits come back attempting to find their way to the ‘light.’  You are not the first one to see the great battles but only those with the ‘sight’ can see it.  Your great, great grandfather was a great medicine man.  He controlled great magic, you may follow in his footsteps.”

Thirty years would pass before I thought about my dream and the conversation with my grandmother.  I would not think about it until Olivia began to sit at the foot of my bed.

Excerpt from the adventure romance with ghostly overtones, OLIVIA by Don Miller.  Please visit his author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM


It’s been a while. I had signed off on my blog recently. Total silence. I just haven’t been motivated or maybe I’ve just been too depressed. Not clinically depressed…maybe. Just depressed over forest fires, hurricanes, bump stocks, kneeling and a president numbered forty-five. I might should have capitalized that last bit but I just can’t. I decided that if I didn’t have anything positive to say I should brood silently since my social media feed explodes with vitriol with any postings other than pictures of pink flamingoes.
I was also brooding over health issues. My rebelling sixty something year old body. Sciatica, shingles and Afib have reared their ugly heads, all in the last six months despite my best efforts at staying ahead of the grim reaper. Add a dash of early onset arthritis…if it is a sixty-something body can it really be early onset? The grim reaper in my rear view seems to have crept just a bit closer.
Maybe there is a glimmer of hope, with my health, not the other stuff. I ran. Two minutes out of five for a total of twelve minutes. By my reckoning, a little over a mile. Last week it was one minute out of every five, every other day. I’ve improved. I know the real runners are reading this and laughing their asses off. Laugh, I don’t care. I used to run half marathons. I wasn’t fast. I sometimes finished high in my age group but it really didn’t matter. I was running against myself, not anyone else…and then myself got in the way. A knee injury due to a misstep, then sciatica, several times, then clinical depression resurfaced. It became easier to just not run. My goal became just to walk and ride my bicycle…maybe.
I hated running in the Seventies when the jogging craze first took hold. If you looked at my body and played “What’s his Exercise,” running might be the last choice you would be inclined to pick. I did it despite my hatred and body type…for all the wrong reasons. I’ll be honest, I ran because of a tall, long-legged, brunette who looked great in the running shorts of the Seventies. I tried to stay just behind her. She became the carrot on a string for the jackass that I was. I wonder what happened to her? I probably shouldn’t wonder.
I got out of the habit of exercise in the Eighties, then back into it in the Nineties, then out of it in the early Two Thousands…until a couple of months after a heart attack in 2006. Running became my shield against my mortality and my clinical depression. The more I ran the less depressed I was about my health I guess…it did seem to lighten the effects of the depression. I grew to love it…well, tolerate it and felt as if I had missed something if I didn’t do it.
It would be other body parts that would get in my way. I always wanted to run a marathon and kept trying to train for one. Every time my weekly mileage crept into the thirty-mile range, I managed to injure myself. Still this little bit of running today may be the glimmer that I needed. Slow and easy…well may be a 5K in a couple of months…yeah, hope springs eternal. Wish me luck.
Don Miller has written six books, five nonfictional and one fictional novella. Please visit his author’s page at http://amazon.com/author/cigarman501